This letter is way overdue. My mom went to be with the Lord over 20 years ago. I should have written the letter 40 or 50 years ago, but I didn’t. Nearly always, I gave her gifts and sometimes only got her a card at Mother’s Day, but even then, when I did she would open it and read what I had given her and written and would, more often than not, shed tears and thank me. But I never sat down and wrote her a letter to say thank you.
We called my mother, “Mun.” In fact, I thought everybody’s mother was named Mun, but the older I got I realized that this was some kind of special designation just for my mother. There may be other Mun’s, but I haven’t run into many of them. We called her Mun because, as is typical, whatever the first child comes up with has a tendency to stick. My older brother at a very early age was unable to say mother and so in trying to pronounce mother he said “Munny,” which later got shortened to Mun. Until her homegoing, she was always Mun to her family, to friends of the family, and to the church family where my father was serving as pastor and she served alongside him. She was known as Mun.
I wanted to write her and tell her this is a long overdue letter, but she knows that. What she doesn’t know is that all of these thoughts have been swirling around in my heart and head all these years. This year I just want to go ahead and put pen to paper and send this previously unwritten letter to her and to all the wonderful, good, godly, Christian mothers that I’ve had the privilege of knowing through the years, but it’s a letter directly to her. It’s just a thank-you note that became elongated.
Mun, thank you … for all the meals. My mom was a great cook. There were special dishes she would fix us on our birthdays that we wanted her to fix, but she could turn every meal into a special occasion. She could bake. She could cook country food. She could make the best biscuits on the planet. I know a lot of good cooks, but anytime we were going to be together she went out of her way and beyond the borders to make sure we had great food.
Because there were five boys in the family and my mom and dad, there were often seven or eight or ten or twelve folks who would be eating at the meal. She would fix for whoever and whatever the need was. Of course, I like many of you grew up in a day when there weren’t restaurants and fast food outlets. Sometimes a fast food place for us was taking a piece of bread and smearing some mayonnaise on it and putting another piece with it, and we thought that was a sandwich. More often than not, we would have a breakfast and supper and if we were around at noon, there would be something at noon to eat. It was always good and plenteous.
When I say there was plenty of food, there was but you didn’t always get some of the items that we might think were delicacies. One of the prize items in my family was when my mother fried chicken. She would nearly always cut up the chicken and there would be this one piece of delicious chicken that I never ever tasted because I was not one of the adults or one of the older boys, and it would be gobbled up by some other person. The wishbone was always a prize gift. I think I was grown before I figured out that everybody else was getting there before me, so I got closer to the front or closer to the plate where the pile of chicken was and I experienced eating the wishbone. It still tastes good.
If you can imagine what life was like getting up and fixing breakfast for a husband and four or five boys who were going to be at the table, we could put away some food. I never ever remember leaving the table hungry. In fact, we were generally over full. Did I get up after every meal and thank her and tell her what a delicious meal it was? No. I think I did sometimes, but I know there were times when we would just gobble it down and take off. I look back and realize what an amazing effort that was — the production of the cuisine she put before us that blessed us, filled us, strengthened us, and sent us out into life. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Mun, thank you … for mercy. The more I learn about mercy, the more I recognize that in a biblical sense it is God not doing to us what we deserve to have done to us. I think about all the mercy you extended to us — especially to my brothers who deserved to be reprimanded and sometimes punished — and how you held back and didn’t treat them as they deserved to be treated. You extended mercy.
Mun, you know I was the worst of the bunch so whatever mercy meant to those other four boys, it means many times over to me. Your love that showed through and your mercy that was extended to me gave me opportunity to be a different person, and you blessed me. Did I ever get a spanking growing up? I reckon I did, but I also remember the times you seemed to have forgotten to tell dad about me when he got home. I began to realize you were just being merciful to me. I have deserved some of the things that came my way that may have seemed to be punishment, but I thank God for your exhibitive mercy.
Mun, thank you … for your marriage. It was a remarkable thing, because you didn’t marry a preacher. You married a young guy who was going to be in business and then God called him to preach and he set off with you and, at the time, three of us boys and started preparing for ministry and preaching. You helped him get through his preparation and then worked with him in the churches he pastored. I think about how remarkable that was as you joined his call and became such a teammate in loving us, but also loving the folks in the church and the people of God. I know there had to be ups and downs in the marriage but you and dad faced them, overcame them, loved each other, and loved us.
Finally, Mun, thank you … for memory. When I say memory, I mean you and dad each had a great memory. Both of you had keen minds and your memories were sharp. I realize it took me a while to understand my memory in retaining information did not come from me but from you and him. It has blessed me all these years. If you make memory into memories, you begin to realize that I am also thankful for the extension of memory to be memories of you as you blessed us, provided for us, cared for us, prayed for us, loved us, and wanted the best for us.
I just wanted to write you this note and say it’s been a while in getting to you, but thank you for all these precious things you have poured into my life.
Your son Jim
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.